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Causes and Solutions of Frequent Aquarium Fish Deaths

Aquarium tank fish death is one of the common challenges faced by aquarists. There are number of factors that could be responsible for the deaths experienced. These are outlined briefly below:

- The aquarist selection of fish.
- The removal and packing of the fish from the pet shop
- Transport time and period and the handling of the fish in transit
- Quarantine procedure.
- Adjustment and adaptation into the new community or environment by the new fish.

When buying fish from the pet shop always spend some time at the place to inquire about the life history and habits of the new purchase. You can then make a selection from collection of the same species. Never buy the last specimen in reserve at any shop because if it had been a good specimen, you would not have met it there in the first instance.

Always form the habit of making your fish purchase during the cool periods of the day, preferably before 12 noon or after 4.30pm. These are the only periods I can guarantee for fish comfort. This restriction is borne out of my observation that most pet shops and aquarists alike do not seem to care about insulation of the fish against temperature fluctuations after gassing them in polythene. When making your fish selection from the pet shop is sure the attendant has the expertise to pick fish out from a selection. This you can know through the swiftness with which your choice fish is removed out of the selection.

Reject a fish that has been chased around, gasping for breath... It is week already! Chances are that it gives up with the further stress that accompanies the transportation of the fish. Make sure that your new purchase is quarantined. That's a single factor that affects fish survival as pets.

Another thing to watch out for in a newly installed tank is the quantity of food: very little of this should be given during the fist three weeks. Mind you! I am not suggesting that you should not give them food at all, because without food, no bacterial flora forms. The food supply to the bacteria should be increased only very gradually. Fish keepers with old functional aquariums should avoid general cleaning that is washing of sand/gravel, scrubbing of tank wall and complete water changes so as not to disturb the bacterial flora. When you have to service, it should just be the removal of the mulm and dead leaves sufficient to ensure adequate flow through the filter and no more. The bad habit of replacing the entire filter material or the soiled part with fresh materials is detrimental to fish life. Most bacterial live in the sludge at the bottom of the tank, so don't throw them away.

Many pet shops that operate a house-to-house maintenance routine on aquariums are used to the habit of complete overhaul which invariably lead to fish death. I have met many people who have said, "I used to service my tank myself. On close scrutiny I discovered that he indulged in the unforgivable habit of washing the aquarium with detergents! In real life situation, no one can attest to having experienced a complete overhaul of a river bed. The only thing that happens during heavy rains or flood is the partial/complete change of the water body. The bed, sand and gravel components get cleaned but not overhauled. This is nature's method of 'servicing' the fish's natural environment. So why don't we all adopt nature's method. Professional aquatic pet dealers service aquariums in the same way, and to the committed aquarist, I will advise you to do this yourself!